Charlie Hebdo, Blasphemy and Prudence

I have respect for Muslims in as much as they are created in God's image and likeness and thereby deserve my respect as persons.

I really don't believe the Koran is an authentic expression of God's Word. I really don't even think that the Prophet Muhammed is a religious figure to be much admired.

Yet with that said neither I, nor anybody else I know, goes around depicting a religious figure held dear to Muslims in a derogatory way. There are basic 'fundamentals' in life like 'treat others the way you would like to be treated' that, for instance, stop me from saying to an Israeli, "Oh, you're from Israel! That rogue state that murders women and children! You can grab all the land you like mate, but its sad for you guys that you missed the boat salvation-wise! You should get yourself baptised mate and at least give yourself a fighting chance of Heaven. After all, the Son of God did say not to leave Earth without it."

Equally, on encountering a Muslim, I tend not to go up to him and say, "Hello. Muslim, eh? You're so called 'prophet' is a fraud who denied Christ and spawned a rival to the One True Faith, outside of which is no salvation. You think God can't become a man? Hello? Doesn't God's omnipotence mean He can do what He likes, eh? What do you think of that, eh? How much do I owe you for the kebab? Yes, garlic mayo and chilli sauce, please..."

Yet, apparently, in the new era of 'free speech' I can behave like this and everyone is fine with that because I've 'said my piece' and offended those religions I think are either a) redundant or b) erroneous. Well, even if everyone was fine with that, which they are not now, nor ever will be, I wouldn't be fine with that, and making ardent claims towards my rights to 'free speech' wouldn't stop me being validly described as a prick of formidable magnitude with only feint respect for Almighty God and no respect for my fellow men.

Natural reason would inform my conscience that behaving like that is wrong. Faith would point to at least some cultivation of prudence in how one approaches those of other faiths. Kindness, patience, humility, charity, all would point away from treating people with that kind of sneering contempt. Of course, none of these things are beyond the mind of the secularists. Its a shame not just for them, but for the whole world, when these things are not put into practice, but are instead abandoned in order to pursue an agenda that seeks to alienate others, disparage others and mock those of religious faith. Religions, whether you think they are right, or wrong, are held incredibly dear to their adherents. As Pope Francis says, you can only insult someone's mother so many times before he punches you. If he punches you and you get up and do it again, you are an idiot. That said, as a commenter has reminded me, Our Lord told us to turn the other cheek.


Tantumblogo said…
You really ought to consider how much your views on Israel have been formed by extremely biased European coverage of the matter, and the degree to which the fealty Euro- and especially British-media give to islam. If you considered different sources, you might modify your views somewhat.

Nosce te ipsum said…
You've sophistically equated 'depicting a religious figure held dear to Muslims in a derogatory way' in a magazine, with going up to an Israeli and saying “Oh, you're from...etc.” and going up to a Muslims and saying “Hello. Muslim, eh?...Etc.” The Pope does the same thing with his example. Your examples are clearly not the same sort of thing as a magazine printing offensive cartoons for the very simple reason that it does not involve going up to random individuals and harassing them.

If people want to print and enjoy cartoons that offend you, it is quite possible for you to ignore them and go about your own life unimpeded though it offends you.

Nobody enjoys being offended. I certainly don't. It isn't an enjoyable thing. However, the problem with accepting the principle that offence cannot (or should not) ever be given is that the truth – truth itself, not how it is expressed – can be deemed offensive. If we as a society value truth we must allow people to be able to give offence.
The Bones said…
Nosce, so is it okay for Muslim,or, more likely, Jews to depict Our Lady or Our Lord in an offensive manner?
Nosce te ipsum said…
Bones, I wouldn't describe it as "okay". It would certainly cause me offence. I would not like it.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, a society which accepts the principle that offence can never be given will stifle truth because truth, quite apart from how it is expressed, can be offensive.
The Bones said…
Depicting Mohammed and the Holy Trinity as they do is in the service of the truth how exactly?

Hebdo is not about truth, it is about taking what men and women deem as sacred and trampling it under foot to see what they say or do in reaction. Its disgusting.
Jacobi said…

Hebdo have in my opinion gone too far, but satire and I mean biting satire, has a place in our Western Catholic-derived society.

I found the Hebdo Catholic cartoons (shown by Fr Blake) offensive, particularly the one of the Tri-Une God. But they do not justify murder as a response. That is in absolute terms, barbaric.

On the other hand the ring of bonking Cardinals, we have only ourselves to blame since homosexual sympathy and probably practise has rather got out of control in our shambolic post-VatII Church, and there undoubtedly is a homosexual group or "Mafia" in the Vaticanc. Pope Benedict made that quite clear.

The Muslim response, justifiable from within the Koran, was nothing to do with being offended. It was simply an attempt to force their religion by fear and murder on the rest of us.
First time commenter to this fine blog.

"Hebdo is not about truth, it is about taking what men and women deem as sacred and trampling it under foot to see what they say or do in reaction. Its disgusting."

Yes, however the time will come (and is even now) when expressing Christian doctrine will disgust many. Truth appears to the worldly to be a heinous expression of lies, intolerance, and so on -- I daresay no less so than what a Catholic feels when viewing some of Charlie Hebdo's blasphemous cartoons.

So, which government -- secular or Islamic -- would you trust to determine what is valid as free speech?

I prefer to let the tares grow with the wheat, so to speak.
Anonymous said…
Blasphemy is offensive because it is profoundly untrue on every level, a direct attack against Truth Himself.
Michael Petek said…
Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but what of the Christians of Mosul?
They've run out of cheeks.
Anonymous said…
"Hebdo is not about truth, it is about taking what men and women deem as sacred and trampling it under foot to see what they say or do in reaction. Its disgusting."

Of course it is - and no amount of hot-air rhetoric in defence of some mythical absolute idea of free-speech can make it un-disgusting and un-low and un-base...

That magazine has Satan's paw-mark (claw-mark)all over it...

What has happened to us that even we Catholics are debating something so obviously condemnable to our common love for Christ Our Lord and the Roman Catholic vision of things?

God help us all - these are terrrible times for Catholics...but let us keep the Faith at all times under the Mantle of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Prayers in my rosaries dear Catholic brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said…
But the cartoon didn't depict Mohammed 'in an offensive way', it merely depicted him.
It's the mere act of depiction that got radicals hot and bothered, not the specific content of the picture. But here's the thing: in Europe, depicting people isn't offensive. That was the whole point of the cartoon. No multicultural society can possibly make concessions to every single cultural preference it contains, and if you live in a country where the mere act of making depictions is not offensive then you ought to accept that as fact. I don't know why making a depiction of someone is any more offensive than, say, selling pork.

Also, as Nosce points out, going up to someone and arguing is a bit different (though still perfectly legal). It's imposing your view and "getting in their face" in a way that's liable to get you smacked, but I bet you do it nonetheless. I bet if someone mentions they're gay, or an Anglican, or whatever you will start probing and after five minutes you'll be arguing about the church. Seriously, I bet you do it every single time.

It's funny when someone says "it's wrong to be offensive, I don't go around saying....." and then follows it up with incredibly offensive statements about Jews and Muslims that you clearly do hold (or you wouldn't raise them). I love how all conspiracy theory ends up sliding into anti-semitism. "more likely the jews" etc. Just can't help yourself can you!
The great lie being sustained by all these politicos and MSM talking heads is that the countries of the west are lands of "free speech" and "freedom of expression".

Try keeping your job in the public sector if you let it be known that you think same-sex "marriage" is wrong, abortion is murder or that children should not be sexualized in their education. These lying hypocrites who say "Je suis Charlie" have exactly the same intent of forcefully imposing their "value-system" and thought control as the Jihadists do. They just use different means - at the moment.

In the past God has permitted hordes of vicious, barbarian, infidels to prevail in order to punish apostate nations for their rejection of Him and His Law. Unless there is wholesale repentance and reparation for the sins and apostasy of our civilization, we can expect more of the same. Read the signs of the times.
Nosce te ipsum said…
Bones, I'm not claiming that Hebdo is about truth, nor that depicting Mohammad and the Holy Trinity as they do is in the service of truth.

My point is that we will stifle truth if we accept the general principle that free speech can be curtailed if it causes offence.

The price we pay for allowing truth to be freely told even if it causes offence is that people are also free to offend others in ways that have nothing to do with the truth.

Are you claiming that the truth can never offend anybody?
The Bones said…
So I guess all those Christian societies that outlawed blasphemy were wrong then. As well as the penalties that were associated with it.

There is no divine right to protection for those who slander and mock God.
Anonymous said…
They weren't wrong, but they were societies in which blasphemy was felt to be so abhorrent by the majority that it necessitated death. We clearly don't live in such a society. Do you WANT the death penalty reinstated for blasphemy? Who would enforce it?

The "MSM pretends to defend freedom of speech" angle is both tedious and wrong. Sure, people have been sacked for refusing to accept prevailing values on (for example) gay marriage. They haven't been murdered in cold blood.

You're all lunatics. You spend your lives complaining about how Islam threatens Christianity, but then when Islamic ideology leads to a massacre in a European country you emphasise the mitigating factors and imply it was all staged by the media!
Nosce te ipsum said…
Ignoratio elenchi!

We are talking past each other, Bones.

I'm not claiming that there is a 'divine right to protection for those who slander and mock God.' I'm not claiming that 'Christian societies that outlawed blasphemy' and 'the penalties that were associated with it', were wrong.

I've made my claim and explained it. You seem unwilling to engage with it.

Perhaps St. Benedict's Thistle (16 January 2015 at 01:48) has expressed the point more clearly than I was able to?
Nicolas Bellord said…
Cameron mentioned the right to freedom of speech 'within the law'. There is quite a lot of law restricting freedom of speech - Official Secrets Act, the law of defamation, the law concerning confidentiality and the general law about causing a breach of the peace. There is no absolute right to freedom of speech as some have claimed in recent days.

But surely there is then the moral law about loving your neighbour which surely means you should be careful what you say and what intention you have in saying something.

This raises the old question about to what extent the moral law should be embodied into civil or criminal law. Obviously one has to have a sense of proportion here.

Incidentally I believe the law on defamation was brought in to provide a legal remedy for those who were defamed rather than having them challenging the insulter to a duel (or perhaps punching them on the nose?).
Lynda, you could truthfully say, "Islam is offensive because it is profoundly untrue on every level, a direct attack against Truth Himself." One should not feel uncomfortable speaking such a truth, right? Many saints and popes have said very similar things about Islam in the Church's history. They openly defended the truths of Christianity against heresy and apostasy and false religions.

But, that could be conceived as 'blasphemy' today by non-Christians.

Secular/atheistic western societies are going along with the implementation of sharia laws in their countries because they are afraid of Muslims. They are caught in a trap of their own making by allowing out-of-control immigration.

We in the west are no longer living in Christian nations ruled by Christians. There are many Christians, but the governments are secular and religion is troublesome to them.

Our rulers will think nothing of suppressing the free speech of Christians, which they find 'blasphemous' when it comes to their progressive/modernist notions, and because Christianity is necessarily opposed to Islam. They have already shown they will do nothing when publications such as Charlie Hebdo blasphemes the LORD. Crickets.

They will and are implementing sharia law as a way of mollifying Muslims and indirectly, of shutting Christians out of the public sphere of ideas. Our dismay at publications such as Charlie Hebdo is better managed by prayer and acts of reparation, not by setting up what is left of the Christian west for suppression and persecution.
Anonymous said…
The truth is that in France blasphemy is not a crime, in theocratic islamic countries is punished with death penalty....have ever heard about Asia Bibi? She did nothing, but soon will be hanged for blasphemy......intelligenti pauca. God bless+
@ Deacon Augustine
I totaly agree.

BTW. most people don´t know how narrowly their government has defined "freedom of speech".
Anonymous said…
I'm sure someone else has/will point this out, but there's a deep irony in the fact that you think displaying an image of Mohammed is deeply and inherently offensive but that you perpetuate the very same blasphemy by displaying the offending imagine on your blog post. A thousand lashes for Mr England!
The Bones said…
Where did I say those who commit blasphemy should be killed?
The Bones said…
Or even physically punished?
The Bones said…
It isn't anti-semitic to point out that Jewish comedians, for example, blaspheme Christ.
c matt said…
sliding into anti-semitism

Any criticism of Israeli foreign policy = anti-semitism. Bit sensitive, are we? I can see why you post as Anonymous.
The Bones said…
Gosh, what a strange website!
Anonymous said…
The opinion has been offered here that a certain amount of freedom is allowable, but that "natural reason" (common sense?)will not disagree with curbs being put on more savage attacks made on religion, in particular. I can't agree - where do you draw the line, and more importantly, who draws it?

Freedom to speak your mind, including criticising and mocking religious faith(s), should in our multi-stranded culture be an absolute right. I would even say that the right to be offensive even in religious matters should be enshrined in specific laws if necessary – to protect those saying such things from prosecution under the growing "hate-speech” umbrella, in the courts. (Naturally, protection of an individual’s reputation and welfare is provided under libel law etc and of course that should continue).

I say this because the problem with allowing just a certain amount of freedom is that those in power, who these days are militant secularists, will make the particular version of “freedom” on offer conform to their own agenda. Currently, as a Catholic, I find myself in the worst of all circumstances: effectively, in my country it is open season on slagging off my faith/Church in myriad ways but if I have the temerity to say or behave as if “gay marriage” is wrong, it won't be long before the Thought Police come looking for me. We need the freedom to defend ourselves. If we believe in the Gospel then we should not fear anything. But we have no right to enforce our notions of blasphemy on our society.

The Bones said…
I'm just wondering how that can be reconciled with the first commandment.
Anonymous said…
If the current status quo offers us no freedom to tell others about the love of God by engaging modernist arguments head-on, then I think it will be difficult for us to show our love of God (First Commandment), unless by "love of God" you mean complacently staying put in our own private ghetto and going to our own very nice and decorous Latin Masses.
The Bones said…
'If the current status quo offers us no freedom to tell others about the love of God by engaging modernist arguments head-on...'

Pope Benedict was pretty good at engaging others in dialogue about faith without insulting them, I thought.
Thomas Herd said…
"It isn't anti-semitic to point out that Jewish comedians, for example, blaspheme Christ."

Of course it is! A lot of non-Jewish comedians blaspheme Christ. Why point only to the (unnamed) Jewish ones? Because you think the fact that they are Jewish is relevant to the blasphemy. Besides, you'd need to give specific examples, not just make a sweeping generalization about all Jewish comedians! It's like saying "it isn't anti-Cathoilic to point out Catholics are gay." A lot are, some aren't.
The Bones said…
Of course it is! A lot of non-Jewish comedians blaspheme Christ. Why point only to the (unnamed) Jewish ones?

Because with Jews we are meant to be in a culture of 'mutual respect and dialogue', just as we are with Muslims.

Atheists, by and large, reject any sense of dialogue with faith.

Respect is a two-way street. We should expect better of people who claim to worship God.

Anonymous said…
I’m not sure where you’re going with this, Bones. You think there is some kind of hierarchy, where (observant) Jews and Muslims are slightly better than atheists? No. There is the Church; and there is everyone else outside of it. There are not degrees of faith. There are not degrees of respect towards Jesus Christ. There are those who do, and those who don’t. Try asking a serious Muslim what he feels about mutual respect and dialogue with us.
The Bones said…
The point of my post is that we do not say whatever we want to people just to cause offece and then claim we have free speech 'so there' because it is completely against reason and the common good. Some kind of sense of fair play and justice is demanded of us by our very nature.
The Bones said…
And indeed we can say things but out of respect for others we might consider how we get our message across. Deliberately inciting provocation by depicting a religious figure negatively might not be the way to go about it. Both the murderers and the victims rejected the use of reason.
The Bones said…
By which we articulate our POV.
The Bones said…
BXVI showed us quite well, I think, how that can be done.
Anonymous said…
Bones, I love you, really I do. Like me, you're a convert and so you thought deeply about stuff before you signed on the dotted line. Sadly, however, there are not many like us about. For all your reservations about Francis and your love of Benedict, I suspect that our society is more likely to listen to the Argentinian streetfighter than the German academic.
Thomas Herd said…
"Because with Jews we are meant to be in a culture of 'mutual respect and dialogue', just as we are with Muslims"

But the Jews 'we'/'Catholics' are meant to be in dialogue with are religious Jews. The dialogue of faith is a specifically religious one. But you, I presume, are referring to the secular Jews in comedy. Again, specific examples would help, but I presume you mean the popular-TV-Seinfeld types and not religious Jews or Zionists who happen to do comedy (in which case you'd really have to give examples!). So the claim is racist in precisely the sense that you take anyone of Jewish ancestry to represent Judaism as a religion and that any comment they make as individuals must necessarily be a result of that Jewish ancestry, not their own opinion. Look, it's as plain as a pikestaff that you really do harbor anti-semitic views. You raise the issue of freedom of speech, and as you see there are two views. Well, both views suggest you ought to admit your views. If free-speech is an unqualified good then why not feel free to speak your mind, If only Christian truth matters then say what you think the Christian truth to be. I don't understand why you level all these accusations at others for not speaking the truth but then only feel comfortable hinting at a watered down version of your own views.
Thomas Herd said…
"we can say things but out of respect for others we might consider how we get our message across."

So end anti-abortion protests? After all, the images upset people. I mean, by your logic they would be in some sense reasonable if they were to shoot twelve people. I mean, you used an image deliberately to offend them. Why does this case differ from the Charlie Hebdo case? You're defending the right of people whose views you must abhor (anti-life and anti-God heretics) to respond to any offense caused by the Truth.
The Bones said…
Religious Jews and secular Jews both believe Jesus Christ is a magician who is in Hell and the Blessed Virgin Mary was a whore. This is what Jewish children are taught.

The religious Jews believe this by faith. The secular Jews believe this by their education in the faith.

Their education in such blasphemy is clearly a contribution to their 'comedic' blasphemy later in their careers to which few atheists could hold a candle.

Go educate yourself.
Nicolas Bellord said…
@Thomas Herd: "So end anti-abortion protests?"

I do not think people who display pictures outside abortion clinics are intending to offend. What they are trying to do is to inform people of the reality of abortion. The truth may shock but I am not sure you can say it offends other than in the sense of contradicting error.
Anonymous said…
Which filthy, perverted anti-semitic websites written for lunatics should I educate myself with? No wonder the Church has fragmented. It's a vipers nest of paedophiles, homosexuals, and anti-semites. Enjoy your sinking ship/
The Bones said…
Whatever websites you find most informative, I guess.
Physiocrat said…
The appropriate response to an offensive cartoon is another cartoon lampooning the ideas that drive it. To kill the cartoonist is to confirm the point made.

What is all this stuff about Israel occupying land and so on? The borders of Israel were established in 1920 and constitute the area of Mandate Palestine ie from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.